Best Buy focuses on Amazon Prime with its own membership program

Enlarge Extended warranties and unlimited tech support – even for things you didn’t buy from Best Buy in the first place – are more of a potential value for Best Buy Beta than the ubiquitous free shipping.

Best Buy is launching a new membership program called Best Buy Beta in some test markets. A bit like Walmart’s Walmart +, the new program focuses on Amazon’s hugely popular Prime membership service, but focuses on Best Buy’s own strengths in addition to the usual free shipping perks.

For $ 200 per year – or $ 180, for Best Buy credit card holders – beta members get unlimited technical support from Geek Squad, including comprehensive protection (up to two years) on most purchases, free standard shipping, and free installation on most products and devices. There is also a 24/7 “concierge” service available exclusively to Beta members via phone, chat or email.

The details Best Buy’s business announcement gives about the concierge service are small, but it sounds like some kind of general “niece or nephew who is good at technology” who can answer questions. (Nibble as a service?)

Beta’s $ 200 annual fee is significantly more expensive than Amazon Prime ($ 120) or Walmart + ($ 100), but the value-added services focus heavily on a human element, rather than simple economies of scale. The extra cost may seem like a good idea for customers who are particularly prone to technology confusion.

The pilot program is currently available in select stores in Iowa, Oklahoma and Eastern Pennsylvania, with plans to expand to Minnesota, North Carolina and Tennessee soon. If you’re currently in the market for 24/7 NaaS, but don’t live in one of Best Buy’s pilot areas, you can subscribe to the company’s existing Total Tech Support program for the same price, but with significantly lower benefits.